December 8th was my birthday and I decided to head out to Lac Deschenes on the Ottawa River to go birding and hopefully see some nice birds. It was a little chilly with snow squalls passing through all day. It was a good chance to study Herring Gulls of different ages and varying plumages. All the Herring Gulls I saw and photographed are presumed of the American subspecies, Larus argentatus smithsonianus. Note that when I refer to a bird as having double mirrors I mean a mirror on p10 as well as on p9. Birds with double mirrors are assumed to likely be of the northeastern type breeding in Newfoundland and wintering along the American Atlantic coast with some birds making it inland to the Great Lakes.
To top off my birthday I got unbelievably great scope views of the 1st cycle Glaucous Gull that came down out of a snow squall and landed on the sand spit in front of me with the rest of the gulls. In this short video clip I documented 4 different species of gulls in various age cycles:
All of these photos were taken by me on 08 December 2016 at Andrew Haydon Park on the shores of Lac Deschenes – Ottawa River IBA in Ottawa, ON.
Around noon today Bev McBride and Dave Moore found and identified a Chestnut-sided Warbler at Britannia Conservation Area. Luckily, I was only a few feet away and they called me over. They did not have a camera with them and wanted to make sure that we documented this sighting. A Chestnut-sided Warbler is a neotropical migrant and should be in Central America by now spending the winter months in warmer climes. The bird today appeared to be a first-fall female so I am assuming it is in first basic plumage. If anyone notices something that makes them believe otherwise than we can post an update.
When it’s this cold out, you have to stay on the go!
This bird was found by Bev McBride at Britannia Conservation Area, below the ridge, on 10 December 2o16 in Ottawa, ON.
I went on a short outing to Green’s Creek in the east end of Ottawa, ON this afternoon. I didn’t see too many species. It was actually pretty cool out because the arctic air mass is still over us here in the Ottawa valley. It was threatening to rain on me so I didn’t do much exploring but just walked straight from Montreal Rd./St. Jospeph Blvd. to Tauvette St./Innes Rd. Along the way I didn’t see as many distractions as I would’ve liked. I keep hoping that there’ll be more warbler action in the area but so far haven’t seen much.
One of the first birds I saw was a Brown-headed Cowbird perched atop a dead tree. A Red-tailed Hawk was flying over and everyone was keeping an eye on it and a few American Goldfinches flew out to chase it as it passed. Later on down the trail I saw another hawk, a Broad-winged Hawk, and it flew low overhead. I didn’t get any photos as it happened really fast but the sky was too bright and cloudy for photos anyway.
The best bird I saw was a Tennessee Warbler that was hanging out with a couple Black-capped Chickadees. I managed to get a few shots of it when it was closest to me as it was working it’s way through the low bushes hunting and gleaning insects off the newly leaved branches. I had a couple opportunities to see the Tennesse Warbler below eye-level so I could see it’s brilliant green back but I was too slow to get any shots of that, but I tried!
Meeway for now, bye!
I went out birding today in the chilly windy weather hoping to find warblers grounded and easy to find low down near the ground. I got quite a few different species but I missed getting photos of a bunch of the birds that I saw today. I missed getting photos of Baltimore Oriole, Ovenbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren, Red-eyed Vireo and Magnolia Warbler twice! Imagine all the birds that I came close to and missed seeing altogether. For the most part it was quiet today (bird-wise) but I came across a few mixed flocks of warblers and vireos travelling together. The first one I saw in McCarthy Woods East was by far the biggest and the best. The birds were moving along so fast though and I was so overwhelmed that I lost track of them all pretty quickly.
Below are labeled photos of the birds I saw at the different places I made it to today;
I went out this afternoon after it stopped raining hoping for a fallout of migrating songbirds. I wouldn’t exactly call what I saw a fallout but I wasn’t disappointed! There was a major influx of birds since yesterday, most notably Swainson Thrushes, many more Yellow-rumped Warblers and few other species of wood-warblers. Because it’s late and I’m planning on trying for a Big Day tomorrow on 14 May, International Migratory Bird Day I’m going to end off here and just post my photos from today.
When I got to Green’s Creek Conservation Area at around 4pm this afternoon one the first birds I saw was a huge female Peregrine Falcon circling and soaring overhead. I tried to take a few photos of her but I actually didn’t have a SD card in my camera at the time! This has happened to me more times than I can count, the problem is because I usually take out the card to insert into my computer’s card reader. Anyway, the first bird I took an actual photograph of that I saved to disk was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. A bright and fresh spring male was singing in a tree just to the side of the trail.
Further along the trail a few American Robins were flushed up ahead by a couple off-leash dogs (there are hundreds here btw). A few steps later I noticed a brownish bird hop from the trail ahead of me into a tangle. I used my binoculars and saw a thrush species with a rufous-brown nape or back of the head/neck. I could just see the folded wingtips and I noticed right away that they weren’t rufous-tinged or coloured at all and were brown compared to the nape. My first thought was, “It’s not a Hermit Thrush!” I tried to take a picture but I only had one chance and it didn’t turn out. The bird flew over the trail and into a shrub that I was able to see with an unobstructed view. When the bird flew I noticed that it’s back was redder than it’s wings. When it landed I could see that it’s underside was fairly clean (for a catharus thrush). All this put together = Veery!
Much of the Green’s Creek area and it’s “table lands” were once farmland and is now in various stages of succession. The ants have obviously been hard at work reclaiming and “decolonizing” or maybe it should be “recolonizing” although I bet they never left. I also really love the area’s of Green’s Creek that fall in the ravine and steep escarpment type categories. Because I assume these areas were not good for farming the trees were left alone for the most part and so there are old growth stands and the conifers in particular are jsut mind blowing. I’ve never seen any spruce that are as tall and as old anywhere else within the city of Ottawa besides the Dominion Arboretum but this is a more natural setting. I also noticed lots of wildflowers in various stages of growth. I saw two species of trillium, an invasive or exotic species of spruce and new to me species of flowering shrub, an American Fly Honeysuckle, that had the most eye catching little yellow flowers.
After work this afternoon at around 3pm I went to do some afternoon birding around Fletcher Wildlife Gardens and the Arboretum. There still aren’t tons of warblers around yet but there were still a few good ones. New and exciting birds today included Nashville Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo.
At the Arboretum there is a beautiful and huge Rhododendron shrub that caught my eye and I just had to go and check it out. I spent a few minutes admiring it and it’s flowers. It’s just about in full bloom and it’s pretty spectacular!
Lately I’ve also had a few great opportunities while at work. I work outside doing gardening and landscaping work so I get to listen and watch out for birds all day and I also get to travel to different areas of the city everyday and monitor different urban, suburban and almost rural habitats. I always have my binoculars and camera with me in my backpack just in case something amazing happens. Today at work in Merivale Gardens adjacent to the NCC Greenbelt area just south of the Nepean Sportsplex (where I work quite often, at least once a week) an American Redstart came flitting through the backyard this afternoon. This area (along Revol Rd.) is practically a guaranteed area to find, or at least hear, a Carolina Wren. Every time that I come to work here, this year and last, there is a wren singing loud nearby in the neighbourhood or in the forest behind the property.
On the 07th of May while working in Champlain Park across the river in Gatineau, Quebec a bright male Black-throated Green Warbler was singing in the mature forest nearby and eventually made it’s way into the front yard where I was working. I watched as it gleaned insects off the tree branches and even got treated to a front row seat to full blast version of it’s sweet song. All day I listened to a symphony of Black-throated Green Warblers, Brown Creepers and Chipping Sparrows that day.
Another really neat find on 07 May 2016 in Gatineau, QC was a Gray Tree Frog we noticed while trimming overhead branches on very tall mature trees. When we first noticed it it was perched on a fence but I had to move it out of the way of falling branches. Because I was in the middle of working (and with other people), I only took a few quick photos with my iPhone. It was amazing to see it’s suction-cupped toes and I also noticed it’s yellow patch on the back-inside of it’s thighs. I learned later that they are chamelion-like and can change colour to match their surroundings and blend in, amazing!
On the 05th of May in Grenfell Glen a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak dropped in while I was working and came to inspect me and my radio which I had tuned to CBC radio 2 that day. Birds seem to be intrugued or not at all bothered by either radio or me singing and humming along to music which kind of has been surprising me. Actually maybe that is why they’ve been coming in so close to me, to find out what on earth is going on.
I first noticed the Rose-breasted Grosbeak when it started singing in a tree right above my head. It somewhat sounds like an American Robin when it sings but it was it’s call notes that caught my attention and made me think, “Purple Finch, but that’s not quite it?!”